Blue Hubbard Squash Soup

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I love farmer’s markets and the beautiful winter squashes that are available in the fall.   I recently found a squash that I just love, the Blue Hubbard Squash. These babies are beautiful, blueish hue on the outside with bright orange flesh.  They are super sweet and make amazing soup as they take on flavors wonderfully.  They used to be very common in the early 20th century as they were one of the few foods that could be counted on to pass through a long winter unspoiled, if  stored properly.  Legend has it that Hubbard squashes came from South America where apparently they have been cultivated for some 4000 years. Stories say that that they were brought to  Massachusetts in the late 1700’s. A woman named Elizabeth Hubbard may have been responsible for spreading and endorsing the seeds.

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These squashes can be beasts –  some can weigh thirty pounds or even more – and with a tough rind that makes getting to the flesh quite difficult.   I’ve heard that the best way to open the large ones is to wrap them in a plastic bag and drop them with some force to the ground.  They apparently split open easily.  I didn’t have to worry about it as my hubbard was just a baby, at least it was small. I managed to cut it open with a sharp knife and then cut off the rind with the same knife.   After that I cut it up into cubes so it could be roasted.

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I looked in my pantry to see what I could find to complement the squash.  I didn’t want to mess around with too many other vegetables so I opted only to use leeks and shallots to keep the flavor of the squash pure.  At the end I added some apples as I thought the apples would work perfectly.  I wanted just a hint of aji panca (a chili native to Peru)   in the soup.  This is my favorite chili powder these days, I love the flavor of this chili powder.  I added some half and half to finish the soup and to round it out.

I think it worked out well, but you be the judge.

Ingredients

¼ tsp ground aji panca chili powder

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¼ tsp Alderwood sea salt

1 tsp French thyme

1 bay leaf

3 1/3 cups roasted blue hubbard squash (cut into 1 cubes)

1 ½ cup diced leeks

½ cup dice shallots

2 small fuji apples that have been cut into 1 inch pieces

5 cups organic chicken stock

1 tbl olive oil

½ cup half and half

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast blue hubbard squash (that has been coated with olive oil) for 45 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. Remove from oven
  3. In soup pot, sauté leeks and shallots in 1 tbl olive oil until softened.
  4. Add roasted blue hubbard squash to leeks and shallots
  5. Add chicken stock and spices
  6. Add apple pieces
  7. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes until apples are softened
  8. Puree soup
  9. Add  half and half

bluehubbardsquashsoup

Enjoy!

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Duroc Pork and Fuji Apple Stew – Bodacious Food for Cool Fall Evenings


Bodacious Pork and Apple Stew

I love the fall and fall weather. Warm days and cool fall nights beg for food that is comforting and warming for the body and soul. Lately the evenings have been particularly cool, perhaps I am not used to the cool weather yet. I went out to find some meat to prepare a comforting, soul soothing fall meal. I happened up locally raised, Napa Milk-Fed Duroc pork (in many cuts) that I thought would fit the bill perfectly and make for a special treat. But what is so special about Duroc pork and Duroc pigs.

Duroc pigs were used as the foundational genetics of the pig industry beginning in the 20th century. In 1812, early “Red Hogs” were bred in New York and New Jersey and these would be the ancestors of Duroc pork today. The meat and the fat are superb in taste, texture with a sweetness to it. Dairy raised pork is said to be the best, the creme de la creme, with best of pork.

Milk-fed pigs are very special pigs that are selected for the great honor of being fed fresh Jersey cow milk every day of their lives. This creates a sweeter, more tender meat that really looks and tastes unlike most other pork I’ve ever tasted. Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are easy on the taste buds. Duroc pork is not too fatty, not too lean, not too strong but certainly more flavorful than its farm raised counterparts.

So what to make with this delicious meat? Well fall is the time for the new crop of apples. I found some fresh fuji apples at the market. Fuji apples were first developed in 1962 at the Tohoku Research Station in Morioka, Japan. They quickly became one of the most commonly grown apple varieties in Japan and in the 1980’s they were made available in the United States where they are primarily grown in Washington State and California, my state. Fuji apples have flesh that is dense, juicy and crisp. Low in acid its flavor is mild and sweet with hints of both honey and citrus. The thick skin of the fuji apples and their dense flesh helps them hold up well in when cooked. So decided, fuji apples to pair with the Duroc pork. Apples and pork are a match made in heaven. So there was my recipe to take the chill out of the cool nights; Duroc Pork with Fuji Apples, sweetened with leeks and red onions. Perfect in fact.

Ingredients

One pound 1 ounce Duroc pork stew meat – cut into 1 inch pieces

¼ cup flour

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp alderwood smoked sea salt

2 tsp olive oil

1 cup diced leeks (about 1 large leek)

¾ cup red onion diced

1 cup diced celery

½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika

½ tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

½ tsp dried French thyme

2 cups organic beef stock

2 medium apples – cut into cut into 1/8ths

Method

  1. Mix flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper together
  2. Dredge meat with flour/salt/pepper mixture
  3. Sauté meat until browned
  4. Remove meat from pan
  5. Add diced leeks and red onions
  6. Sauté until softened
  7. Add diced celery and continue to sauté
  8. Add meat with juices back into pan
  9. Add beef stock and spices to pan
  10. Simmer for 20 minutes
  11. Add apples to pan
  12. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes until apples are softened. Add additional water if needed.

Bodacious Duroc Pork and Apples

Serve with rice and enjoy the ultimate of fall comfort foods. Wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket next to the fire. Pour yourself a nice glass of crisp German Riesling (the sweetness and acid pair perfectly with this dish) and enjoy the body warming Duroc pork and apple stew.

Bodacious Duroc Pork and Apple Stew